Questions to Consider While Reading

We are going to be doing a lot of reading this semester.  We will be reading excerpts from books by historians from a variety of different fields within U.S. history.  Some of these books are classics in their field, and others are more recent publications that are breaking new ground.  As we read, we will be thinking about the arguments that the authors are making, and the evidence that they are using to make these arguments. We will be trying to understand and deconstruct these readings, not memorize dates and facts.

Sometimes determining an author’s argument can be difficult. I have listed some questions below that may help you in this process. You can answer these questions or just think about them you do the readings. You may use them to guide your reading response blog posts, write out answers to them and turn those in as part of your class participation grade, or you can just ignore them. They are a resource for you.

Questions to Consider While Reading:

  • What time period does the author discuss in this reading?
  • What part of the country?
  • What types of people is the author writing about?
  • What types of primary sources (documents from the time period) does the author use as evidence?
  • If you had to pick one sentence that you think states the author’s main argument, which sentence would you choose?
  • If you had to restate this sentence or the author’s main argument in your own words, what would you write?
  • Does this reading make you think of anything else that we have read this semester? If so, what connections do you see, either in terms of theme or topic?
  • What was one question you had about this reading? Was any of it confusing? Did it make you wonder about something that the author didn’t consider?
  • Did you find this piece useful? Why do you think it was assigned? Would you recommend it to a friend?

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